Tiger Woods Is Back This Week, and There Will Be Much to See and Hear
For the first time since April 8, when he appeared uncomfortable during a cold, rainy day at the Masters, Tiger Woods is set to return to competition this week at the Hero World Challenge.
We’ve seen or heard little publicly from Woods since he made the cut for a record-matching 23rd straight time at the Masters, looked miserable during a postponed third round at Augusta National and then announced before the resumption of play the next morning that he was withdrawing.
It was understandable, given the way he struggled to walk.
Two weeks later Woods announced he had surgery to address “post-traumatic arthritis” in his right ankle, among the issues he faced in the aftermath of a February 2021 car crash that has seen him compete just five times worldwide since that time.
A subtalar fusion was performed, with the idea of giving Woods more stability and an improvement in his quality of life.
While video has surfaced of Woods hitting shots at a clinic and later caddying for his son, Charlie, at an junior event, it still came as a mild surprise that he decided to play at his annual fundraising event at Albany, the place he’s used now several times to attempt to launch a comeback.
Woods has not played the Hero event since finishing fourth at his own tournament in 2019. The event was canceled due to the pandemic a year later and in 2021 he was still recovering from his injuries, although he did use the opportunity to hit balls on several occasions that week while addressing the media for the first time.
Last year, Woods was set to return at the Hero but withdrew on the Monday of tournament week due to an issue with plantar fasciitis, a condition related to his injuries.
It’s certainly possible that Woods could have another setback this week but he announced his intentions to play earlier than necessary and has also committed to the PNC Championship, where he will be able to ride a cart.
But he will have to walk in the Bahamas, potentially five rounds, assuming Woods takes part in the Wednesday pro-am. And how he fares will be of keen interest.
During his other events over the past two years, Woods has shown little difficulty hitting the ball, leading those to wonder just how well he might fare if he simply could make the journey to it easier.The question now centers around whether or not the most recent surgery has helped Woods to overcome the various issues he’s had in the previous events we’ve watched him play.
Woods made the cut at the Genesis Invitational in February, tying for 45th, and then again at the Masters before he withdrew.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press before announcing his comeback, Woods said there was no longer pain in his ankle.
“My ankle is fine,” Woods said. “Where they fused my ankle, I have absolutely zero issue whatsoever. The pain is completely gone. It’s the other areas that have been compensated for.”
It’s unclear how much Woods has been able to practice, among the many questions he is likely to face at a scheduled Tuesday news conference, where for the first time he will undoubtedly be asked about the “framework agreement” between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia
Since that was disclosed June 6, Woods has been appointed as a sixth player director on the PGA Tour Policy Board.
Between the ropes, expectations should be low. Woods hasn’t competed in nearly eight months.
But this is a good place to return, on a flat course with warm temperatures where he can gauge where he is. From there, it will be easier to assess what comes next. Woods is now ranked 1,316th in the Official World Golf Ranking—his lowest ever—and turns 48 on Dec. 30. And it won’t be long after that before speculation begins anew as to his next tournament.